A baby playing behind a baby safety gate

Once your baby is on the move, life gets a whole lot busier for everyone. If there’s a risky corner of the room, your little explorer will probably find it. That’s why installing a baby gate (or gates!) will help your child safely flex their newfound independence.

Most little ones start to crawl between six and nine months old,[1][2] so you’ll want to install your baby safety gates well before they reach this milestone. (It will seemingly happen overnight!) Our guide will help you decide what type of baby gate to buy.

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1Do you need a baby safety gate (or two)?

Baby safety gates for the stairs, kitchen and fireplace

Baby safety gates are designed to keep babies away from hazards and limit your child’s ability to roam from room to room. The most obvious place to install one is at the top or bottom of stairs to help prevent injuries from falls. Gates can also be used in hallways or doorways to keep little ones away from potentially dangerous areas like the kitchen, laundry room or fireplace.[3][4]

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Baby Gates and Pets
In general, safety gates aren’t great at keeping pets away from babies, since most cats can squeeze under or jump over a gate and some dogs may be able to do the same. If you’re worried about the behaviour of a family pet around your child, your best option is to secure your pet in a crate or room away from your baby and ensure your child and fur baby are never together without supervision.[5]

2What type of baby gate is best?

There are three main types of baby safety gates: pressure mounted, hardware mounted and playard.

Pressure-Mounted Baby Safety Gates

A pressure-mounted baby safety gate from Walmart

  • What it is: A pressure-mounted baby gate uses tension rods or a spring system to secure the gate in place. It expands to fit various doorframes and entryways.
  • Where to use it: Place the gate in a doorframe or hallway to separate areas on the same floor of your home.
Pros Cons
Easy to install Not usually available in extra wide
Doesn’t require drilling or screwing hardware into your walls or doorframes Not safe for use at the top of stairs (there’s a small risk of a child pushing it over)[6]
Can be moved between areas of your home

Shop Pressure-Mounted Gates

Hardware-Mounted Baby Safety Gates

A hardware-mounted baby safety gate from Walmart

  • What it is: A hardware-mounted baby gate requires you to drill or screw the gate into your existing home structure (such as doorframes, walls or trim).
  • Where to use it: Place the gate at the top or bottom of stairs or in an area where an extra-wide baby gate is required.
Pros Cons
Best choice for stairs Will create holes in your wall or doorframe
Ideal for uneven surfaces where a pressure-mounted gate might be unable to grip Should be secured to a wall stud or banister, not drywall or plaster alone
May be available in extra wide or have add-on parts that increase width

Shop Hardware-Mounted Gates

Playard Baby Safety Gates

Freestanding play yard baby gate

  • What it is: A freestanding baby gate creates a playard wherever you put it.
  • Where to use it: Place the gate in a backyard or large room to confine your child to a smaller area.
Pros Cons
Most are designed for indoor and outdoor use Not a safe option for stairs
You can usually add additional panels to increase the size Takes up living space when assembled

Shop Playard Gates

3How do you measure to make sure you get the right size?

Before you make a purchase, measure the width of the opening so you know exactly how wide of a baby gate you will need.

  • For staircases: Measure the width along the floor and between the walls or wall and banister.
  • For doorways: Measure the distance between the walls and the distance between the trim along the ground.

When it comes to height, choose a safety gate that’s at least three-quarters of your child’s height.[7] Buying one that’s even a bit taller—such as the height of your child—will allow you to use it longer. Health Canada recommends only using the gate until your child reaches a height of 36 inches or about two years of age.[8]

4Should you choose wood, plastic or metal?

Baby safety gates in wood, metal and plastic

  • Wood: Wood baby gates have a classic look that suits a wide range of homes—especially rustic and farmhouse styles.
  • Plastic: If you’re looking for an affordable gate, you can’t beat plastic. That said, it probably won’t elevate your décor.
  • Metal: Metal gates tend to be more expensive than those made of wood or plastic but earn top marks for durability, making them a good choice for the tops of stairs. They tend to be sleek and modern.

You may also want to shop according to colour: black, grey, white or brown.

5What safety features should you consider?

A baby safety gate with a dual-action latch

You can rest easy knowing that all baby gates sold in Canada must meet regulatory requirements set by Health Canada. That said, if you’re thinking about borrowing a safety gate or buying second-hand, be wary of gates manufactured before 1990. Some older models have wide V-shaped openings along the top, or large diamond-shaped openings along the side, and don’t meet current safety specifications.[9]

You may also want to consider these features:

  • Slat spacing: Avoid gates with holes or slat spaces that are large enough to be used as toe holds since little climbers might use these surfaces to scale the gate.[10]
  • Type of latch: You want it to be relatively simple for you—but not your baby—to use. Look for a dual-action latch or one with a squeezing mechanism or pressure-release handle.
  • Floor bar: Skip the bar. It can be a tripping hazard for parents!
  • Opening direction: A gate that opens in both directions is often more convenient and ideal for high-traffic areas.
  • Height: Your gate should be at least three-quarters of your child’s height.[11]
  • Finish: Whether made from wood, plastic or metal, the gate should be smoothly finished with no cracks, splinters or sharp edges.[12]
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Safety Tip
Be sure to install the safety gate according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Installing or using a gate improperly can result in an accident—the very thing you’re trying to prevent.[13]

6Does brand matter?

Though different brands offer unique models and design elements, all will have the same safety features required by Health Canada. If you want even more assurance, all the brands on this list have been manufacturing baby products for more than two decades.

  • Dreambaby: This internationally recognized brand manufactures a range of child safety products including hardware-mounted metal baby gates, many under $100.
  • KidCo: Much like Dreambaby, this family-owned brand is known for its metal baby gates. (It was actually one of the first brands to introduce them to market!) Plenty of styles have extenders if you need to block off an extra-wide door, stairway or hallway.
  • Regalo: Another family-owned company, Regalo Baby creates products with three core components in mind: safety, simplicity and security. They offer a range of tall and extra-wide styles.
  • North States: In business for more than 50 years, North States creates versatile, economical plastic gates and play yards for babies and pets.
  • Evenflo: With over 85 years of experience making products for children, Evenflo designs a range of baby goodies including stylish wood baby gates that will fit in with your décor.
  • Safety 1st: The first brand to develop a comprehensive line of “childproofing” products, this internationally recognized company creates simple metal and plastic walk-through gates with clean lines.

7How much does the average baby gate cost?

Baby safety gates can range from $30 to over $250. All models sold by Walmart meet the standards as outlined by Health Canada and price doesn’t have any bearing on safety. If a gate is on the more expensive end, it will likely be wider, have more features or offer a stylish design that blends with your décor.

Whether or not you spend the extra cash will depend on you and your home. For most parents, convenience and durability are on the nice-to-have list. Style likely ranks a bit lower, but may still be worth considering.

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Article Sources

  1. Baby Center. When Will My Baby Crawl?
  2. Healthy Families BC. Babies’ Physical Development from 6-9 Months.
  3. Health Canada. Safety Gates.
  4. Baby Gates Expert. 10 Places You Should Put a Baby Gate.
  5. HealthLinkBC. Child Safety: Pets.
  6. Consumer Reports. Safety Gate Buying Guide.
  7. Baby Gates Expert. The Ultimate Baby Gates Buying Guide.
  8. Health Canada. Safety Gates.
  9. Health Canada. Is Your Child Safe?
  10. Health Canada. Safety Gates.
  11. Baby Gates Expert. The Ultimate Baby Gates Buying Guide.
  12. Government of Canada, Justice Laws Website. Expansion Gates and Expandable Closures Regulations.
  13. Today’s Parent. These Are the 8 Worst Hazards in the Home for Kids.